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Cranial neural crest cells are a multipotent cell population that generate all the elements of the pharyngeal cartilage with differentiation into chondrocytes tightly regulated by temporal intracellular and extracellular cues. Here, we demonstrate a novel role for miR-27, a highly enriched microRNA in the pharyngeal arches, as a positive regulator of chondrogenesis. Knock down of miR-27 led to nearly complete loss of pharyngeal cartilage by attenuating proliferation and blocking differentiation of pre-chondrogenic cells. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a key regulator in integrin-mediated extracellular matrix (ECM) adhesion and has been proposed to function as a negative regulator of chondrogenesis. We show that FAK is downregulated in the pharyngeal arches during chondrogenesis and is a direct target of miR-27. Suppressing the accumulation of FAK in miR-27 morphants partially rescued the severe pharyngeal cartilage defects observed upon knock down of miR-27. These data support a crucial role for miR-27 in promoting chondrogenic differentiation in the pharyngeal arches through regulation of FAK.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Upon Notch pathway activation, the receptor is cleaved to release the Notch intracellular domain (NICD), which translocates to the nucleus to activate gene transcription. Using Xenopus egg extracts, we have identified a Notch1-specific destruction signal (N1-Box). We show that mutations in the N1-Box inhibit NICD1 degradation and that the N1-Box is transferable for the promotion of degradation of heterologous proteins in Xenopus egg extracts and in cultured human cells. Mutation of the N1-Box enhances Notch1 activity in cultured human cells and zebrafish embryos. Human cancer mutations within the N1-Box enhance Notch1 signaling in transgenic zebrafish, highlighting the physiological relevance of this destruction signal. We find that binding of the Notch nuclear factor, CSL, to the N1-Box blocks NICD1 turnover. Our studies reveal a mechanism by which degradation of NICD1 is regulated by the N1-Box to minimize stochastic flux and to establish a threshold for Notch1 pathway activation.
Copyright © 2016 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Wnt/β-catenin signalling directs fundamental processes during metazoan development and can be aberrantly activated in cancer. Wnt stimulation induces the recruitment of the scaffold protein Axin from an inhibitory destruction complex to a stimulatory signalosome. Here we analyse the early effects of Wnt on Axin and find that the ADP-ribose polymerase Tankyrase (Tnks)--known to target Axin for proteolysis-regulates Axin's rapid transition following Wnt stimulation. We demonstrate that the pool of ADP-ribosylated Axin, which is degraded under basal conditions, increases immediately following Wnt stimulation in both Drosophila and human cells. ADP-ribosylation of Axin enhances its interaction with the Wnt co-receptor LRP6, an essential step in signalosome assembly. We suggest that in addition to controlling Axin levels, Tnks-dependent ADP-ribosylation promotes the reprogramming of Axin following Wnt stimulation; and propose that Tnks inhibition blocks Wnt signalling not only by increasing destruction complex activity, but also by impeding signalosome assembly.
The non-canonical Wnt/planar cell polarity (Wnt/PCP) pathway plays a crucial role in embryonic development. Recent work has linked defects of this pathway to breast cancer aggressiveness and proposed Wnt/PCP signalling as a therapeutic target. Here we show that the archetypal Wnt/PCP protein VANGL2 is overexpressed in basal breast cancers, associated with poor prognosis and implicated in tumour growth. We identify the scaffold p62/SQSTM1 protein as a novel VANGL2-binding partner and show its key role in an evolutionarily conserved VANGL2-p62/SQSTM1-JNK pathway. This proliferative signalling cascade is upregulated in breast cancer patients with shorter survival and can be inactivated in patient-derived xenograft cells by inhibition of the JNK pathway or by disruption of the VANGL2-p62/SQSTM1 interaction. VANGL2-JNK signalling is thus a potential target for breast cancer therapy.
Glucagon antagonism is a potential treatment for diabetes. One potential side effect is α-cell hyperplasia, which has been noted in several approaches to antagonize glucagon action. To investigate the molecular mechanism of the α-cell hyperplasia and to identify the responsible factor, we created a zebrafish model in which glucagon receptor (gcgr) signaling has been interrupted. The genetically and chemically tractable zebrafish, which provides a robust discovery platform, has two gcgr genes (gcgra and gcgrb) in its genome. Sequence, phylogenetic, and synteny analyses suggest that these are co-orthologs of the human GCGR. Similar to its mammalian counterparts, gcgra and gcgrb are mainly expressed in the liver. We inactivated the zebrafish gcgra and gcgrb using transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN) first individually and then both genes, and assessed the number of α-cells using an α-cell reporter line, Tg(gcga:GFP). Compared to WT fish at 7 days postfertilization, there were more α-cells in gcgra-/-, gcgrb-/-, and gcgra-/-;gcgrb-/- fish and there was an increased rate of α-cell proliferation in the gcgra-/-;gcgrb-/- fish. Glucagon levels were higher but free glucose levels were lower in gcgra-/-, gcgrb-/-, and gcgra-/-;gcgrb-/- fish, similar to Gcgr-/- mice. These results indicate that the compensatory α-cell hyperplasia in response to interruption of glucagon signaling is conserved in zebrafish. The robust α-cell hyperplasia in gcgra-/-;gcgrb-/- larvae provides a platform to screen for chemical and genetic suppressors, and ultimately to identify the stimulus of α-cell hyperplasia and its signaling mechanism.
© 2015 Society for Endocrinology.
αA- and αB-crystallins are small heat shock proteins that bind thermodynamically destabilized proteins thereby inhibiting their aggregation. Highly expressed in the mammalian lens, the α-crystallins have been postulated to play a critical role in the maintenance of lens optical properties by sequestering age-damaged proteins prone to aggregation as well as through a multitude of roles in lens epithelial cells. Here, we have examined the role of α-crystallins in the development of the vertebrate zebrafish lens. For this purpose, we have carried out morpholino-mediated knockdown of αA-, αBa- and αBb-crystallin and characterized the gross morphology of the lens. We observed lens abnormalities, including increased reflectance intensity, as a consequence of the interference with expression of these proteins. These abnormalities were less frequent in transgenic zebrafish embryos expressing rat αA-crystallin suggesting a specific role of α-crystallins in embryonic lens development. To extend and confirm these findings, we generated an αA-crystallin knockout zebrafish line. A more consistent and severe lens phenotype was evident in maternal/zygotic αA-crystallin mutants compared to those observed by morpholino knockdown. The penetrance of the lens phenotype was reduced by transgenic expression of rat αA-crystallin and its severity was attenuated by maternal αA-crystallin expression. These findings demonstrate that the role of α-crystallins in lens development is conserved from mammals to zebrafish and set the stage for using the embryonic lens as a model system to test mechanistic aspects of α-crystallin chaperone activity and to develop strategies to fine-tune protein-protein interactions in aging and cataracts.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Asymmetric development of the vertebrate embryo has fascinated embryologists for over a century. Much has been learned since the asymmetric Nodal signaling cascade in the left lateral plate mesoderm was detected, and began to be unraveled over the past decade or two. When and how symmetry is initially broken, however, has remained a matter of debate. Two essentially mutually exclusive models prevail. Cilia-driven leftward flow of extracellular fluids occurs in mammalian, fish and amphibian embryos. A great deal of experimental evidence indicates that this flow is indeed required for symmetry breaking. An alternative model has argued, however, that flow simply acts as an amplification step for early asymmetric cues generated by ion flux during the first cleavage divisions. In this review we critically evaluate the experimental basis of both models. Although a number of open questions persist, the available evidence is best compatible with flow-based symmetry breakage as the archetypical mode of symmetry breakage.
Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Many cellular processes are controlled by multisubunit protein complexes. Frequently these complexes form transiently and require native environment to assemble. Therefore, to identify these functional protein complexes, it is important to stabilize them in vivo before cell lysis and subsequent purification. Here we describe a method used to isolate large bona fide protein complexes from Drosophila embryos. This method is based on embryo permeabilization and stabilization of the complexes inside the embryos by in vivo crosslinking using a low concentration of formaldehyde, which can easily cross the cell membrane. Subsequently, the protein complex of interest is immunopurified followed by gel purification and analyzed by mass spectrometry. We illustrate this method using purification of a Tudor protein complex, which is essential for germline development. Tudor is a large protein, which contains multiple Tudor domains--small modules that interact with methylated arginines or lysines of target proteins. This method can be adapted for isolation of native protein complexes from different organisms and tissues.
Insulin from islet β-cells maintains glucose homeostasis by stimulating peripheral tissues to remove glucose from circulation. Persistent elevation of insulin demand increases β-cell number through self-replication or differentiation (neogenesis) as part of a compensatory response. However, it is not well understood how a persistent increase in insulin demand is detected. We have previously demonstrated that a persistent increase in insulin demand by overnutrition induces compensatory β-cell differentiation in zebrafish. Here, we use a series of pharmacological and genetic analyses to show that prolonged stimulation of existing β-cells is necessary and sufficient for this compensatory response. In the absence of feeding, tonic, but not intermittent, pharmacological activation of β-cell secretion was sufficient to induce β-cell differentiation. Conversely, drugs that block β-cell secretion, including an ATP-sensitive potassium (K ATP) channel agonist and an L-type Ca(2+) channel blocker, suppressed overnutrition-induced β-cell differentiation. Genetic experiments specifically targeting β-cells confirm existing β-cells as the overnutrition sensor. First, inducible expression of a constitutively active K ATP channel in β-cells suppressed the overnutrition effect. Second, inducible expression of a dominant-negative K ATP mutant induced β-cell differentiation independent of nutrients. Third, sensitizing β-cell metabolism by transgenic expression of a hyperactive glucokinase potentiated differentiation. Finally, ablation of the existing β-cells abolished the differentiation response. Taken together, these data establish that overnutrition induces β-cell differentiation in larval zebrafish through prolonged activation of β-cells. These findings demonstrate an essential role for existing β-cells in sensing overnutrition and compensating for their own insufficiency by recruiting additional β-cells.
The melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) is essential for control of energy homeostasis in vertebrates. MC4R interacts with melanocortin receptor accessory protein 2 (MRAP2) in vitro, but its functions in vivo are unknown. We found that MRAP2a, a larval form, stimulates growth of zebrafish by specifically blocking the action of MC4R. In cell culture, this protein binds MC4R and reduces the ability of the receptor to bind its ligand, α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH). A paralog, MRAP2b, expressed later in development, also binds MC4R but increases ligand sensitivity. Thus, MRAP2 proteins allow for developmental control of MC4R activity, with MRAP2a blocking its function and stimulating growth during larval development, whereas MRAP2b enhances responsiveness to α-MSH once the zebrafish begins feeding, thus increasing the capacity for regulated feeding and growth.